Apple may have come up with yet another camera technology that could allow the company to continue to avoid the megapixel race.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recently granted the Cupertino-based company a patent for a three-sensor prism-based camera design. The patent describes a “digital camera with light splitter” in which an individual sensor would be tasked with collecting red, green and blue (or presumably any other color set) wavelengths.

As TechCrunch highlights, this would eliminate the need for special filters or algorithms to split the data. The resulting image would be of higher resolution and quality, something that Apple strives for with each new iPhone release.

The publication points out that this method would be much more expensive to implement versus the current camera system (perhaps it may be reserved for the premium Plus model?). What’s more, the components would likely take up more space and we know how Apple feels about pumping out thin devices.

The patent adds a bit of credibility to John Gruber’s account of the camera system in the next iPhone.

Late last year, Gruber said he heard that the next smartphone from Apple may feature the biggest camera jump ever. Although details were lacking, Gruber noted that it’ll use a two-lens system to capture DSLR-quality imagery.

If Apple is indeed able to substantially boost image quality, it would no doubt help the iPhone maintain its status as the world’s most popular camera. As always, keep in mind that a patent application doesn't guarantee that a feature will show up in a future product.